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How to Create a Story Through Photography

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Sep 19

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Creating a Story Through Photography

Why is creating a story in your photos so important? Because it gives the viewer something they can relate to.

In yesterday’s article -Why John Carter Sucks and Avatar is Awesome - we talked about how using emotion can be the difference between success and failure. The same exists in photography when it comes to telling a story.

To create a story in your photos, you can start by coming up with just a few elements. You will need characters, a location, and objects for them to interact with. These are all completely open ended, and you can make a story using any combination you feel works best. For instance you can have multiple characters, or many objects. You can also use a character as an object.

Our Exercise

Today we are going over a great exercise for creating a story, it is simple and can be done anywhere. All you have to do is make separate lists of the 3 elements discussed above: characters, location, and objects.

Once you have your lists of elements, it is time to bring everything together, matching each element to another. You will wind up with an original story every time!

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  • http://twitter.com/Dockettphoto Bryan Dockett

    I like the red bg btw ;)

  • nickbedford

    Scandinavian prince is standing in the middle of a subway holding his wine and is looking around baffled, like he’s just been teleported through time. That’s what happened in my head :P

  • Cristian27

    The mythical flying snake is not a 100% fail, you can think of a pile of tires, on top, huge cobra type snake with big teeth, protecting the tropical forests from being cut down. :) . A lot of photoshop would be involved, but still… good imagination exercise.

    Or maybe I didn’t get the message :P

  • Mark

    I used to carry a sketch book with me, now I that I have an iPad I use it extensively.   Whenever an idea pops up I will jot it down in Evernote.  Then I can add to it later with a sketch (separate app), and attach photos like locations and props to the original note.  It syncs with all my devices so where ever I am I have a way to capture my ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1684980002 Natalia O.

    this is great, i already came up with a brilliant idea while watching this episode, thank you :) !

  • Andrew Cockerill

    HAHA!!! That’s exactly what happened in mine too!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tsaqib.alhasawi Tsaqib Al-Hasawi

    This is awesome!

  • AngeloDau

    one of best post of Aaron.. pay attention to him people.. ;)

  • http://arrowlili.co.uk/ arrowlili

    Aw, this is brill Aaron! I’ve just gone through a creative dry well so this would be a great technique to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I did just start a set based on tarot cards but yeh, coming up with a story can be a bit tricky!

    Just a suggestion… I think this method could make for a useful little iPad/iPhone/ android? App. In a creative slump? Just click a button and it comes up with a random story idea… Just a thought :-)

  • Sebastian Ortiz

    Very cool Idea!! 

  • Relkins44

    HI Aaron,
    I must tell you that I made this composite before your video, but what a great way to come up with ideas. I have just started pulling out objects from some pictures I took earlier in my life. All the images taken below were taken from a trip to southern pennsylvania at the Renaissance festival. The field was shot on the way home. The two birds taken in my back yard, the dead trees taken on my way as well, and the Maiden and horseman taken at the renaissance festival. I called the composite the Traveler. I tried to tell a story.

    Great video on how to come up with ideas. Love your Phlearn Pro’s. I wouldn’t have been able to make the composite with out the help of you and the Phamily.

    Thank you for your dedication to the arts.

    Russ Elkins

  • ggr8buck

    Hey where do you get those ideas from? Just kidding but what a great Idea.

  • Paul Frocchi

    wonderful! like many below you hit a wall, I’ve found recently that ALL my recent thoughts are based on stories others are telling and then ‘mimicing’, And then there’s this pressure you put on yourself thinking you’re not creating….you’re only copying. THIS IS A GREAT TOOL AARON! Already my comfort for writing my own ‘stories’ is growning which is the first step…..strip away any negative thoughts to unblock your mind. As always, thanks for sharing! SupaStar!

  • http://ginabegin.com/ @ginabegin

    I love the idea, but how do you photograph these in reality? It seems you would have to do like someone did below and create composites and stage quite a bit. I’m new here, so maybe I’m missing something. :) My style is photojournalistic—or at least I would like to work towards that!— and would love to be able to create stories in that style. Suggestions on that?

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